How search engines work
Search engines run “robots,” sometimes known as “bots,” “spiders,” or “crawlers,” which roam the web, following links, and gathering information. They index the contents of your site, noting the words & phrases noted there. They store this information in a “cache.”
When you search for something on Google, say, “vintage amps,” Google doesn’t, at that moment, go out searching the web for the sites with information on vintage amps. Instead, they search their cache to locate the relevant websites, the ones on which they found information about vintage amps while they were roaming the web. That’s how they can return 5 million search results in just a fraction of a second.
Each search engine has its own formula – an algorithm – for ordering the search results. They take into account not only the keywords found on your webpage, but their locations & context. They also consider the number, quality, and text of links to your webpage, as well as other factors.
The search engines send out their bots to index, and re-index websites on a regular basis, looking for new, changed, and deleted information. In this manner they can keep their cache up to date.
How directories work
A directory is a website offering a large, categorized set of links. DMOZ (Open Directory Project) is a good example.
Categories (for example, “Arts & Entertainment”) are divided into many subcategories (Art, Music, TV, Literature), with further sub-sub-categories (artists, art supplies, galleries…) and even sub-sub-sub-categories (painters, sculptors, fiber artists) and sub-sub-sub-sub categories (abstract painters, portrait painters).
In this way, you can look for something specific, or just browse through listings in the category and see what catches your eye.
Webmasters can suggest their websites for inclusion in directories. Each directory’s owner or editors will decide whether to list the site.
Good luck with your site! Please let me know if you’d like to use my services, or if you have any questions. I’m always glad to help & would be delighted to hear from you.